Ashkenaz Festival's 10th Biennial Celebration Set for Now thru 9/1

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Ashkenaz Festival's 10th Biennial Celebration Set for Now thru 9/1

The Ashkenaz Festival, North America's premier festival of international Jewish music and culture, returns to Toronto's Harbourfront Centre with its 10th biennial event this summer. Celebrating a wide range of Jewish creativity and artistry, from traditional styles to cross-cultural fusion, the week-long festival runs today, Aug. 26 to Sept. 1. Featuring artists from across the globe, the Festival's programming includes music, film, theatre, cabaret, dance, literature, panel discussions, crafts and visual arts - with the majority of events offered free to the public.

Originally created in 1995 to celebrate Yiddish and Klezmer revival artists, the Ashkenaz Festival has evolved into a broad celebration of Jewish and cross-cultural art and performance featuring more than 90 acts and over 250 individual artists from around the world.

This year's international headliners include Jewish-Afrobeat pioneers Zion80 (New York), Yiddish psychedelic rockers Forshpil (Russia/Germany), genre-busting DJ Simja Dujov (Argentina), Iraqi-Jewish roots rocker Dudu Tassa (Israel), with the Canadian premieres of the racy Yiddish folk-opera Lilith, The Night Demon in One Lewd Act and the multimedia tour de force The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book. Canada is also well-represented, with local heroes and guerrilla-folk insurgents Lemon Bucket Orkestra, JUNO-award winning David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana, Vancouver klezmer-punk upstart Geoff Berner, Quebec fiddling femme fatale Briga, and Jaffa Road's Aviva Chernick in her stunning new solo project.

"Ashkenaz represents the cutting-edge of contemporary Jewish artistic creation," said Eric Stein, artistic director. "It's a dynamic international scene, producing some of the most exciting music and art being made today. The Festival reflects as much of our own city's multicultural flavour and artistic ferment, as it does the eclecticism and vibrancy of Jewish artistic creation worldwide. I'm constantly inspired and delighted by the cross-cultural exchange that occurs at each Ashkenaz Festival, and the diversity of both the artists and audiences."

Always fun for the whole family, The Ashkenaz Festival includes kid-friendly programming and entertainment, featuring the family favourite Ashkenaz Parade, held on Labour Day. The signature closing event of the festival, the waterfront transforms into a joyous procession of music, dance, theatre, giant puppets and stilt walkers. Once again produced by Shadowland Theatre, the Parade is filled with pomp and pageantry and invites the community to participate in a joyful celebration for all ages.

The Ashkenaz Foundation is a community-based, non-profit organization. Through its biennial festival, and an expanding slate of year-round programming, they are dedicated to fostering an increased awareness of Yiddish and Jewish culture through the arts. In 2012, the Festival attracted more than 60,000 people to the celebrations.

2014 Ashkenaz Festival
Dates: Tuesday, August 26 to Monday, September 1
Location: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen's Quay W., and other venues around the GTA
Cost: Access to the festival is free. Tickets for select performances are available for purchase at: http://www.ashkenazfestival.com/2014-festival/ticketed-events/

For a full list of programming, please visit ashkenazfestival.com. Additional attractions, as well as full performance and workshop dates and times, will be announced shortly. The Ashkenaz Festival is co-produced with Harbourfront Centre.

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